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Daily Archives: March 4, 2011

Cuba changes plans to reduce one million state jobs

Cuba changes plans to reduce one million state jobs3 March 2011 Last updated at 13:41 GMT Help

The Cuban government has admitted that its plans to lay off a million state workers are behind schedule and will not be completed for at least five years.

The changes are part of a major restructuring of the which will see the introduction of more private enterprise and less central planning. The government sees it as vital to sustaining the communist system, rather than as a shift towards capitalism.

Dr Stephen Wikinson, director of the Centre for Caribbean and Latin American Research at London Metropolitan tells BBC Radio 5 live Up All Night's Rhod Sharp that the process of reducing the state workforce has been successful.

Half-Century of Conflict Backdrop to Alan Gross Trial


Half-Century of Conflict Backdrop to Alan TrialBy Dalia Acosta

HAVANA, Mar 4, 2011 (IPS) – More than 50 years of conflict between Cuba and the United States, and in particular Washington's consistent support for dissidents in this Caribbean island nation, will leave their mark on the trial of U.S. citizen Alan Gross that began this Friday.

Gross was Dec. 3, 2009 when he was attempting to return to the U.S. after his fifth visit to Cuba in nine months. He is accused of acts against the independence and integrity of Cuba, punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

The 61-year-old U.S. citizen works for Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), based in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington DC, which carries out development work in other countries. At the time of his arrest he was a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

As well as alleged involvement in spying, Cuban sources have maintained for months that Gross illegally brought in satellite communications equipment to hand over to internal groups, as part of a programme financed by USAID.

"He violated Cuban laws and national sovereignty and has committed crimes which in the United States carry heavy sentences," Ricardo Alarcón, of the Cuban parliament, said Dec. 10.

Officials in the government of U.S. President Barack Obama and Gross's defence attorney, however, insist that the contractor was on the island to help the small Cuban Jewish community connect to the , which they say is a global right.

"We have made it very clear to the Cuban government that the continued detention of Alan Gross is a major impediment to advancing the dialogue between our two countries," U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said Dec. 3.

A possible swap of Gross for one or more of the five Cuban agents convicted of espionage and serving sentences in the United States, but regarded as anti-terrorism fighters by Havana, was apparently also ruled out by both sides in mid-2010.

Leaders of the Jewish community and of the Cuban Council of Churches denied any contact with the U.S. contractor. Meanwhile, Washington devoted 2.6 million dollars to Gross's defence, out of its 20 million dollar 2010 budget for supporting democracy on the island.

"Gross was not arrested because he is Jewish," said Arturo López-Levy, a Cuban lecturer at the of Denver, Colorado. Jewish delegations from the United States regularly to Cuba, and many of them "have donated computers and cellphones to Cuban Jews," he said.

"But none of these groups has a declared strategy of imposing regime change in Cuba through laws approved by the U.S. Congress," he added, calling for a review of programmes to promote a political transition in Cuba, inherited from the administration of George W. Bush (2001-2009).

The Cuban Democracy Act, approved by the U.S. Congress in 1992, authorised financial assistance to individuals and organisations working for "non-violent democratic change" in this socialist country.

According to Cuban-American lawyer José Pertierra, after Bush took office "the budget for fomenting an opposition in Cuban society allied to the interests of Miami (where most Cuban exiles live) and the White House increased astronomically, from 3.5 million dollars in 2000 to 45 million in 2008."

Local observers speculate that the key issue now could be Cuba's interest in demonstrating links between dissidents and Washington. In the view of government authorities, the opposition in Cuba exists only because of financial and logistical support from the United States.

Perhaps the same reason might underlie the Feb. 26 broadcast of the story of two Cuban state security agents who for years infiltrated opposition groups like the National Commission for and National Reconciliation, and the Ladies in White.

A documentary screened on national television went beyond the personal experiences of Moisés Rodríguez and Carlos Manuel Serpa to delve into the permanent links between dissident groups and the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and how U.S. funds and other material aid enter the country and are distributed among them.

The Cuban agents expressed the view that obtaining money and a refugee visa are the main motives for dissidents to become involved in what the Cuban government regards as mercenary activities.

In addition to direct cash transfers, the government views international prizes awarded to dissident groups as another form of financing, like those received by the Ladies in White, a group of women who since 2003 have organised protests on behalf of their imprisoned husbands, or Yoani Sánchez, author of the Generation Y .

American aid worker’s trial begins in Cuba

American aid worker's trial begins in Cuba From Shasta Darlington, CNNMarch 4, 2011 — Updated 1955 GMT (0355 HKT)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS* Cuba says Alan imported satellite equipment* He is charged with acts against Cuba's independence* The U.S. says Gross was helping the Jewish community improve communications* He could face up to 20 years in if found guilty

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — American government contractor Alan Gross went on trial in Cuba Friday in a case that appears to have derailed a tentative rapprochement between the long-estranged countries.

Cuba claims Gross — a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development — imported illegal satellite equipment to connect dissidents to the . He would face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The United States says he was helping the Jewish community improve communications.

Gross on Friday was driven into the private drive of the courthouse, located in a converted mansion in a residential neighborhood of Havana. His wife, Judy, arrived on foot. Three U.S. officials also took seats in the courtroom as observers.

Gross was held for more than a year before Cuban authorities formally charged him with acts against the country's independence last month.

Judy Gross has appealed to Cuba to release him on humanitarian grounds.

"Alan's 88-year-old mother has just been diagnosed with lung cancer," she said in a written statement. "As I deal with that reality and our 26-year-old daughter's recovery from a double mastectomy, I can only continue to hope for Alan's return and beg the Cuban government to free Alan."

He "is an incredibly loving father," she noted in a video recording released shortly after her husband's arrest. "We've been married 40 years. His daughters miss him terribly."

In a December 2009 speech, Cuban said Gross was illegally distributing "satellite communications equipment" to dissidents.

"The U.S. government has not renounced its goal of destroying the revolution," he said. "The enemy is as active as always. Proof of that is the detention, in the last few days, of an American citizen."

In a video that recently surfaced on the Web and that appears to be a leaked Cuban intelligence briefing, a speaker accuses Gross of using satellite phones to set up wi-fi hotspots.

The arrest put relations between the United States and Cuba back in a deep freeze despite initial signs of a thaw under President Barack Obama.

U.S. officials sharply criticized the charges against Gross after they were announced last month.

"We deplore the Cuban government's announcement that Cuban prosecutors intend to seek a 20-year sentence for Mr. Gross," said Gloria Berbena, public affairs officer for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana.

The White House also chimed in, claiming that Gross "has been unjustly detained and deprived of his liberty."

"Instead of releasing Mr. Gross, so he can come home to his wife and family, today's decision by Cuban authorities compounds the injustice suffered by a man helping to increase the free flow of information to, from and among people," then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Friday that Gross had been "unjustly jailed for far too long." He needs to be able to leave Cuba and return home, she said. This is a matter "of great personal pain" to his family and concern to the U.S. government.

Foreign diplomats have speculated that Cuba will find Gross guilty, but could release him fairly quickly on humanitarian grounds.

The Right to Defend Rights in Cuba

The Right to Defend Rights in CubaMarch 3, 2011Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES, March 3 – A few days ago a Cuban residing abroad asked in this : "Where did Ravsberg take the photo for his article? – because there aren't any commercial signs on the streets of Havana."

What I found quite symptomatic was the fact that he didn't recognize the capital of his own country.

Undoubtedly the changes taking place on the island have "disoriented" those who insist on assuring that nothing is happening. At times I have the impression that some fear the reforms more than the immobilism.

This occurs, despite situations as visible as the opening of hotels to Cubans, the possibility of them now building their own homes, buying computers and cellphones, or setting up their own business and having access to in cybercafés.

There are also subtle but no less interesting changes, such as the publication and sale of copies of the Constitution, the placement of giant billboards on that topic and even a forum on the Radio Rebelde website where burning issues were debated.

Cuban legal scholars responded to the participants — residents who were both on and outside the island — about of , the right to free movement within the country, dual citizenship and the former prohibition against access to hotels (this was eliminated in 2008).

The forum was something truly novel for Cuba, and not only because the questions published questioned the constitutional legitimacy of some measures taken by the Cuban government, but also because of several of the answers the jurists gave.

One of the participants pointed out the existing contradiction between a Constitution which holds that a Cuban "may live in any sector, area or neighborhood of a city" and the government resolution that restricts migration into Havana.

The answer by attorney Andry Mantilla was that — in this case — the authorities took "more into account the objective circumstances that condition the situation than they did their own higher judicial framework, which should serve to limit them."

My impression is that the jurist is affirming the unconstitutionality of that government measure. In fact, he subsequently appealed for new mechanisms and demanded "responsibility in the face of the neglect of constitutional provisions."

A peculiar debate ensued around the matter of dual citizenship. The Constitution reads that "when foreign citizenship is acquired, one loses their Cuban citizenship." However government authorities demand anyone born in Cuba to travel with a Cuban passport when visiting the island, despite their having become citizens of another country.

The experts explained that "since there is no a formal pronouncement" from any institutions, the person will continue being Cuban. What that means — in this case — is that the "Law of Laws" has no validity because the authorities refuse to apply it.

Where they detected no contradiction was in the requirement of an exit permit to leave the country. The scholars emphasized that the Constitution does not establish it "as a right or freedom (…) therefore the requirement does not constitute a direct violation of the text."

In any case, they recognized that the obligation produces disaffection among members of the public and also that the Constitution can be modified. "The laws respond to the times in which they were approved, and to the degree in that society changes, these too must adapt."

Andry Mantilla therefore assured that the reform underway "should be done in consonance with what is provided in the constitutional text, otherwise an adaptation of that text should be made to then reflect such changes."

The authorization allowing self-employed workers to hire other workers, for example, runs head-on with Article 14, which prohibits "man's exploitation by man" – a phrase that Marxists embrace to argue against any profiteer who uses wage-labor.

However, I believe that it was attorney Marta Prieto who contributed the central idea of the debate, disqualifying those who understand "critiques or complaints against rights as something alien or harmful to the system, while forgetting that the defense of rights is one of the most important rights of the human being."

A Havana Times translation of the Spanish original authorized by BBC Mundo.

Clinton Calls for Release of American on Trial in Cuba

Clinton Calls for Release of American on Trial in CubaVOA News March 04, 2011

The United States has called on Cuba to release an American contractor who is going on trial in Havana for allegedly supplying dissidents with communications equipment.

Speaking to reporters Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Cuban government should release Alan "unconditionally" and allow him to return to his family.

Gross, who has been jailed for more than a year, is going on trial Friday in Havana to face the charge that he violated the "integrity and independence of Cuba."

Cuban authorities accuse Gross of bringing communications equipment into the country to supply Cuban groups. He could face 20 years in if convicted.

The trial is expected to last only a day or two and is closed to the media.

Gross was working for a private firm, Development Alternatives International, contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The firm says Gross was working on a project to bring communication equipment to members of Cuba's small Jewish community, and denies he was working with dissidents. The company has since ceased its activities in Cuba.

Cuba to free 7 more prisoners, send them into exile in Spain

Cuba to free 7 more prisoners, send them into exile in By The Associated Press (CP)

HAVANA — The Roman Catholic Church says Cuba will free seven more prisoners and send them into exile in Spain, along with their families.

None of the men are on a list of five prominent political prisoners that remain from a 2003 crackdown on dissent, though two were members of opposition groups. Others were jailed for violent, but politically motivated acts like hijacking.

Cuba has freed 47 peaceful political prisoners jailed in the 2003 sweep, as well as about 35 other prisoners separately.

Cuba issues more than 113,000 self-employment licenses

Cuba issues more than 113,000 self-employment licensesPublished March 04, 2011EFE

Havana – More than 113,000 licenses to start businesses were granted in the first four months of 's push to expand the scope for self-employment and entrepreneurship, Cuba's official press said Friday.

"As a result of the new measures in effect since the end of last year there are 157,371 self-employed workers in the country, a number that will soon double," Juventud Rebelde newspaper said.

According to the figures, 68 percent of the new private-sector workers previously had no formal employment.

Some 20 percent of the licenses granted have been for the "preparation and sale of ," from home deliveries to opening restaurants.

The other most sought-after option is the contracting of workers, with 15 percent, while permits to passengers and goods account for another 6 percent.

Other licenses in demand were those for makers and vendors of household items, landlords, builders, carpenters and shoemakers.

Since October when the new regulations went into effect to increase self-employment, 32 percent of the permits awarded have been in Havana, home to more than a sixth of Cuba's roughly 11 million people.

The expansion and loosening of restrictions on self-employment in Cuba is being introduced to help make up for jobs eliminated by the massive lay-offs contemplated for the "inflated" state work forces, one of the more significant measures of the plan promoted by President Castro.

The so-called "labor readjustment" in state work forces plans to eliminate 500,000 public-sector jobs, and its implementation was supposed to begin in January, but the government has acknowledged a "delay" in the process.

President Castro said last week at a meeting of the Council of Ministers that the elimination of the bloated state work forces is a measure that cannot be locked into "inflexible periods of time," adding that the plan of economic adjustments should not be applied hurriedly or in an improvised manner because the possibility of mistakes in its implementation constitutes the "biggest threat" to the revolution.

Castro acknowledged delays in the start of this process, insisted that the state "will leave no one unprotected," and said it would take five years to get Cuba's economic reforms up and running.

The Project of Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, as the plan of reforms is known that was created to overcome the economic crisis that has afflicted Cuba for years, will be ratified at the sixth congress of the ruling Communist Party, set for the second half of April.

The island's only legal political organization last held a general assembly in 1997.

Trial against US contractor starts in Cuba

Posted on Friday, 03.04.11

Trial against US contractor starts in CubaBy PAUL HAVENAssociated Press

HAVANA — A U.S. government contractor went on trial in Cuba on Friday in a case sure to have a profound impact on relations between the Cold War enemies.

Alan faces a possible 20-year sentence for "acts against the integrity and independence" of Cuba. The 61-year-old Maryland native was working for the Bethesda-based Development Associates International on a USAID-program that promotes democracy when he was in December 2009.

His family, and U.S. and company officials, say he was bringing communications equipment to Cuba's 1,500-strong Jewish community. Cuban Jewish groups deny having anything to do with him, and there was speculation some Cuban Jewish leaders would testify against him.

Gross's wife, Judy, and lawyer Peter J. Kahn arrived by foot at the courthouse in a converted residential mansion in Havana's once-prosperous 10 de Octubre neighborhood, and were later seen sipping water in the court garden during a midday recess. American consular officials were also at the court as observers. They did not speak to reporters, who were kept some distance away across a narrow street.

The trial – closed to the media – is expected to be over in a day or two, with a verdict announced immediately thereafter. Sentencing, should Gross be convicted, would likely come about two weeks later.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rhodium Clinton said the U.S. government is "deeply concerned" about Gross's fate.

"He has been unjustly jailed for far too long," she said. "We call on the government of Cuba to release him and unconditionally allow him to leave Cuba and return to his family, to bring an end to his long ordeal."

The proceedings offer Cuba a chance to highlight Washington-backed democracy-building efforts like the one Gross was working on, which Havana says are designed to topple the government.

Washington spends more than $40 million a year on the programs, with USAID controlling most of that and doling out the work to subcontractors.

Development Associates International, or DAI, was awarded a $4.5 million contract for the program in which Gross was involved, and Gross reportedly was paid more than a half-million dollars himself, despite the fact he spoke little Spanish and had no history working in Cuba. Gross traveled to the island several times over a short period on a visa, apparently raising Cuban suspicions.

The programs have also been criticized repeatedly in congressional reports as being wasteful and ineffective. In March 2010, Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Democratic Rep. Howard Berman, of California – both longtime critics of Washington's 48-year trade on Cuba – temporarily held up new funding in the wake of Gross' arrest. The money has begun flowing again, though U.S. officials say DAI is no longer part of the program.

A senior congressional aide with knowledge of the USAID programs told The Associated Press the Cuba effort – which was ramped up under the Bush Administration with the goal of promoting "regime change" on the island – was on autopilot by the time Barack Obama took office.

"Neither the State Department nor USAID knew who all of these people were or what they were doing in the name of the US government and with US taxpayer money," he said, adding that oversight was insufficient to tell whether the programs were effective.

He said the contractors themselves designed and evaluated the programs and determined whether they were doing a good job.

"They had the mandate, the money, and political advocates in Congress," he said.

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the programs with the media, said that "to this day" it is not clear who Gross was working with in Cuba.

Cuban authorities have not spoken publicly about their case against Gross. But a video that surfaced days before the charges were announced indicates prosecutors will likely argue that the USAID programs amount to an attack on the island's sovereignty.

Judy Gross has appealed to Cuba to release her husband on humanitarian grounds, noting that the couple's 26-year-old daughter Shira is suffering from cancer and that Gross's elderly mother is also very ill.

On a she started to track her cancer treatment, Shira Gross asks followers to keep her father in their thoughts.

"G-d listens to our prayers, so please pray for his release," she wrote in an entry posted Thursday.

Many observers do see a way forward that would get Gross back to his family, and avoid a standoff between Havana and Washington.

As recently as January, a senior U.S. State Department official said she had been given signals by the Cuban government that Gross would be sent home soon following a trial. American officials were taken aback when – a few weeks later – prosecutors said they were seeking a 20-year jail term.

Phil Peters, a longtime Cuba expert who is vice president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Lexington Institute, said he saw Cuba freeing Gross soon, despite the fact prosecutors are seeking such a stiff sentence.

"The odds are the guy is going to get convicted, that's not hard to predict," he said. "But I don't believe that the Cuban government has an interest in holding him in jail for the long term."

Cuba frees more prisoners

Cuba frees more prisonersThe Associated Press

HAVANA — The Roman Catholic Church says Cuba will free seven more prisoners and send them into exile in , along with their families.

None of the men are on a list of five prominent political prisoners that remain from a 2003 crackdown on dissent, though two were members of opposition groups. Others were jailed for violent, but politically motivated acts like hijacking.

Cuba has freed 47 peaceful political prisoners jailed in the 2003 sweep, as well as about 35 other prisoners separately.

Cuba abre juicio contra Gross con repercusión en relaciones con EEUU

Cuba abre juicio contra con repercusión en relaciones con EEUUAFP Por Rigoberto Díaz

Cuba abrió este viernes el juicio por actuar contra su "independencia e integridad" contra el estadounidense Alan Gross, cuya puesta en inmediata fue reclamada por la secretaria de Estado estadounidense, Hillary Clinton.

El proceso transcurre en el Tribunal Provincial de La Habana sin acceso a la prensa extranjera, y con custodia policial que cerró el tránsito en el entorno al edificio, donde se constituyó el panel de cinco jueces sin jurado, según prevén las leyes cubanas.

Gross, de 61 años, enfrenta una petición de 20 años de prisión por "actos contra la independencia o integridad territorial del Estado". Fue detenido en La Habana el 3 de diciembre de 2009 cuando, según dijo el propio Raúl Castro, distribuía como "agente secreto" de "sofisticados medios de comunicación" a opositores.

Washington lo reconoce como un empleado de la compañía Development Alternatives (DAI) -subcontratada por el Departamento de Estado-, que ayudaba a judíos en Cuba a comunicarse con el exterior dándoles celulares y computadores, pero esa pequeña comunidad niega haber tenido contactos con él.

Antes de comenzar la sesión, los periodistas vieron entrar a la esposa del contratista, Judy Gross, acompañada de Peter Kahn, abogado de la familia, los que declinaron comentarios.

Igualmente participan tres miembros de la pequeña comunidad judía de Cuba e igual número de funcionarios consulares estadounidenses.

En un video de la seguridad del Estado cubana, aparecido en como una "filtración", un experto asegura que la meta de Gross era "crear una plataforma tecnológica fuera del control de las autoridades cubanas", como parte de una estrategia de Washington para "articular una red virtual de mercenarios".

Coincidiendo con el inicio del juicio, la jefa de la diplomacia estadounidense, Hillary Clinton, exigió a Cuba a liberación sin condiciones de Gross.

"Está desde hace mucho tiempo. Llamamos al gobierno cubano a liberarlo sin condiciones y a permitirle salir de Cuba y encontrarse con su familia", dijo Clinton en Washington.

Para el académico de la estadounidense de Denver, el cubano Arturo López-Levy, el juicio "es una oportunidad para el gobierno cubano de demostrar las bases legítimas de la defensa nacional en contra de la política intervencionista de Estados Unidos".

Según versiones sin confirmar, la defensa actuante de Gross estará en las manos de la abogada cubana Nuris Piñero, quien representa a las familias de cinco cubanos presos en Estados Unidos hace 12 años, bajo cargos de espionaje.

Cuba reconoce a los cinco como sus agentes, pero no para espiar a Estados Unidos, sino a los grupos anticastristas de Miami en sus planes violentos contra Cuba.

Washington rechazó hace un par de meses un eventual canje de los cinco cubanos por Gross.

Cuba y Estados Unidos, sin relaciones diplomáticas desde 1961, tuvieron una tregua en su largo diferendo político poco después de que el presidente Barack Obama levantara en abril de 2009 las restricciones a viajes y remesas de los cubano-estadounidenses impuestas por su antecesor George W. Bush en 2004.

Los dos países reiniciaron en 2009 conversaciones migratorias, que sostienen desde 1994 y estaban suspendidas desde 2003, pero la detención de Gross acabó con la corta luna de miel y la retórica de confrontación volvió a subir de tono.

Cuba liberará "en las próximas horas" al opositor del Grupo de los 75 Pedro Argüelles Morán


Cuba liberará "en las próximas horas" al opositor del Grupo de Pedro Argüelles MoránMADRID, 4 Mar. (EUROPA PRESS) -

Las autoridades cubanas liberarán en las próximas horas al político Pedro Argüelles Morán, arrestado durante la Primavera Negra de 2003, según ha confirmado este viernes el propio opositor a la Yoani Sánchez y la esposa del , Yolanda Vera, a Radio Martí.

En declaraciones telefónicas a Europa Press, Sánchez ha explicado que en horas de la tarde (noche en España) Argüelles Morán la llamó por teléfono para comunicarle que los funcionarios de la prisión le pidieron que "recogiera todas sus pertenencias personales por sería liberado en las próximas horas".

Argüelles Morán –uno de los presos del Grupo de los 75 que tiene un delicado cuadro de – cumple una condena de 20 años en la prisión de Canaletas, en la provincia de Ciego de Ávila. "Pedro está muy contento, muy feliz y crucemos los dedos porque sea así y esté pronto en su casa", ha expresado la bloguera opositora.

Con la excarcelación de Argüelles Morán quedarían en prisión cuatro opositores de la Primavera de Negra de 2003 que se han negado a abandonar la isla a cambio de su liberación, a diferencia de 40 de sus compañeros que han viajado a España con sus familias.

El régimen de Raúl Castro anunció en julio del año pasado la excarcelación de los 52 opositores de la Primavera Negra que quedaban en prisión, como resultado de los diálogos históricos con la Iglesia Católica en los que España participó como mediador. Hasta la fecha han sido liberados 47 opositores, de los cuales 40 han viajado a España y siete se han quedado en la isla.

Con la excarcelación de Argüelles Morán quedarían en la cárcel cuatro opositores que han rechazado la propuesta del cardenal Jaime Ortega de viajar a España a cambio de su liberación.

Los negros en la cultura cubana

Los negros en la cultura cubanaFriday, March 4, 2011 | Por Víctor Manuel Domínguez

LA HABANA, Cuba, marzo ( – La recurrencia del tema racial en los salones de la intelectualidad cubana, no logra concretar avances, ni a la sombra del poder. En Cuba lo negro no tiene fijador si no es aferrado a una tumbadora, la tarima de un agro mercado estatal, o a un terreno de béisbol. Las desventajas por el color de la piel se mantienen en todos los estratos de la sociedad, aunque ya en los inicios de la revolución se dieron por terminados oficialmente los prejuicios raciales en el país.

Desde la prohibición del documental PM (1961) por presentar "sólo negros bailando", al decir de un censor, el tema de la "gente de color" en la cultura cubana se convirtió en tabú. Los 36 libros de todos los géneros escritos y publicados entre 1960-1965 por intelectuales negros en la editorial El Puente, también fueron eliminados del acervo cultural de la nación.

El cierre de la editorial y las represalias contra sus integrantes, acusados de propagar la homosexualidad, el Black Power, de publicar a exiliados y tener relaciones con extranjeros, demostró la desigualdad de oportunidades entre blancos y negros en el país.

Las causas de su clausura, afirma el ensayista Roberto Zurbano, integran "ese capítulo perdido de la historia de la literatura cubana en el período revolucionario que nuestros grandes textos críticos e historiográficos, silencian con la mayor tranquilidad".

Pero no sólo El Puente fue objeto de una demolición racial. Los temas relacionados con las religiones y cultos de origen africano, también quedaron excluidos por muchos años del arte y la literatura nacionales.

En la actualidad, para la gran mayoría el tema racial sólo se mueve en los foros mediáticos hacia el exterior, las revistas especializadas y los encuentros para hablar sobre lo mismo en el interior.

El proyecto cultural Color Cubano, creado por la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC) para dar seguimiento a los actos discriminatorios en el sector, no cumplió sus propósitos en diez años de gestión. Igual resultado se le augura a la recién creada Comisión cubana contra la discriminación racial.

Por otra parte, el documental Razas, realizado por Iván Corbalán para el Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), si bien demuestra que existe la discriminación, se queda en la sala oscura de la UNEAC.

Las opiniones sobre el tema expresadas en el documental por etnólogos, africanistas, artistas, escritores y funcionarios, se apagaron al unísono con el proyector. De poco sirve que hace unos días, en Casa de las Américas, se presentara el libro La problemática racial en Cuba, de Esteban Morales, si no se pone al alcance de los marginados por el color de su piel.

Tampoco contrarresta la discriminación que se continúe paseando por la Ruta del Esclavo en los mapas y jardines de la casona del Vedado donde radica la Fundación Fernando Ortiz. Si 2011 fue declarado por la ONU Año Internacional para las Personas de Ascendencia Africana, es hora de que los debates sobre la discriminación racial crucen la frontera del color.

Ya es tiempo de que en Cuba se sienten a la mesa de la integración las sombras de los dos abuelos, aquellos del poema de Nicolás Guillén, el blanco y el negro, fundidos a partes iguales en el rostro de la identidad nacional.

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